Decision Making Heuristics

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According to Baron (147), people make decisions on a daily basis and the process of decision making is facilitated by use of heuristics. Heuristics are considered as strategies that help people to obtain correct solutions during the decision making process. However, the use of heuristics does not always lead to a correct solution and therefore there is a possibility of making wrong decisions after applying heuristics. Heuristics can only allow individuals to have an idea regarding how to weigh their options (Davis & Palladino). There are about four distinct types of heuristics which include availability, representativeness, stimulation and anchoring and adjustment. The representativeness and availability heuristics are the two decision-making heuristics that will be considered in the discussion.

Baron (148) considers the representativeness heuristic as a type of heuristics as a natural part of cognition in human beings. Representativeness heuristic determines how people react to others with whom they don’t share some common characteristics. For instance, black people may be considered to have a higher likelihood of committing gun crime and the Muslims may be considered to have a higher likelihood of suicide bombing. Therefore, due to representativeness heuristic, people may generally expect a random black individual to shoot them and a random Muslim person to blow them up. A society can therefore be institutionally discriminated when people use representativeness heuristics to make their decisions. This type of heuristics is formed right from the childhood stage as children are taught to acquire knowledge by association.

Availability heuristics is defined as a cognitive heuristic which allows a decision maker to rely upon readily available knowledge rather than try out other procedures or alternatives. People use the availability heuristics for judging likelihood or frequency of events (Baron 150). Because it is easier to remember recent reports or experiences, the news significantly impact on the way individuals make their decisions. The news concerning a rape case makes women more nervous regarding going out at night when they are not accompanied by somebody. A number of factors can determine the availability of knowledge that an individual can use to arrive at decisions. Things that can be imagined easily, for instance if they are more vivid, tend to become more available in one’s mind as compared to those things that are not comfortable to think about as they make one’s thoughts to be unavailable. People appear to be egocentric because their own experiences are always readily available in their minds.

It has been seen that decision making process is facilitated by use of decision making heuristic. People get ideas on how to weigh options during the process of making their decisions. However, an individual can possibly arrive at undesirable decisions even when employing decision making heuristics. Representativeness heuristic makes people to generalize specific characteristic among particular groups of people while the availability heuristic lead individuals to base the process of decision making on the readily available knowledge in their minds.  

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